Cocktail Hacker

    Hack What You Drink

Review – Seven Stills of SF – Whipnose Whiskey

Posted by Reese on 2015-01-29 @ 06:01pm

Whipnose WhiskeyI drink sample a lot of whiskey and enjoy every last drop.  In all of those samplings there are aromas, flavors and general experiences that run throughout.  Vanilla, caramel, spices, oak, whiskeyness if you will.  So, when a new whiskey comes through my door I expect those basics in varying quantities and qualities.  Whipnose Whiskey from Seven Stills of San Francisco turned that whole expectation on its head.  The description of how this whiskey was created is best left to the Seven Stills distillers.

Whipnose is the first in Seven Stills’ Collaboration Series.  For this project we partnered with Pacific Brewing Laboratory, located in San Francisco.  We started by distilling each of Pac Brew Lab’s beers to see if we could make a unique whiskey, and as soon as we tasted the whiskey made from their double IPA we were blown away.  Shortly after we brewed 60 barrels of Whipnose IPA, and distilled it into 165 gallons of whiskey, and aged it in new American Oak Barrels.

The name “Whipnose” aptly describes the whip of hop aroma this whiskey opens up with.  The taste is rich malt, dark dried fruits (plums, prunes), light vanilla, toasted oak, and finishes with a smooth, lingering maple syrup.

That whip of hop aroma they mention is absolutely true.  It blew me away as well.  I would never have expected the hop aroma and flavor to carry through to the whiskey so directly, but it’s there with conviction.

The aroma hits you first with hops – citrusy, floral, exactly what you’d expect.  Then you get classic whiskey aromas of vanilla, caramel and notes of dried fruits in the background.  The flavor is unlike any whiskey I’ve tasted.  In my notes I wrote “quizzical look” and if you picture a dog turning it’s head to the side, you’ll know exactly what I looked like.  There is fruitiness like crazy in Whipnose, both citrus notes from the hops and dried fruits (cherry, prune).  You get the standard whiskeyness of vanilla, caramel and oak as well, but the fruit is the star.  The floral aspect of the hops is there as well, but more of a background player.  Finally, the finish is light and slightly sweet with a very pleasant hint of bitterness from the hops.

This is a whiskey I would slow sip and enjoy the complexity as it warms in your hand.  But my brain wouldn’t let it go at that, I had to try it in a Boulevardier.  I went with 2:1:1; Whipnose, Sweet Vermouth and Campari and it was a stroke of genius.  The resulting cocktail retained the floral aroma of the hops and the citrus and bitter qualities of the Campari teamed up with the same in the Whipnose.  The complex herbal qualities of the vermouth round it all out.  If it’s possible to mourn the passing of a cocktail, I certainly did when my glass went dry on this one.

On the very large plus side, a second release is in the works.  Hopefully soon!


† The product reviewed here was provided to me as a free sample. If you’re wondering what that means check out my sample policy.

This comic is far too appropriate not to share.  Remember to make good decisions.

bad_decision

Review – SIA Scotch Whisky

Posted by Reese on 2015-01-12 @ 09:33pm

SIA Blended Scotch WhiskyI think we can all agree that whiskey is definitely an acquired taste.  For some of us, myself near the head of the line, that acquisition process is very quick and soon turns into a full blown love affair.  For others, they never get it.  I’d dare say, some folks are likely baffled by why people drink whiskey at all.  Carin Luna-Ostaseski, founder of SIA Scotch Whisky was firmly in the “I’m not sure I get this” camp when she first sampled Scotch with friends.  Thankfully she had a determined friend who quizzed her on her favorite cocktails, wines and foods.  Armed with this new knowledge, he was able to guide Carin to whiskies that she truly enjoyed.  This realization that whiskey has many facets, began her journey to bring to market a new Scotch whisky tuned for the palate of her target audience, whisky virgins and enthusiasts alike with a modern palate.  Finally, to bring her dream to reality, she appealed to the masses on Kickstarter and their funding told her she was on the right track.  And now it’s here.

SIA Scotch Whisky (from the Scotch Gaelic word six) shows itself as a light honey/amber color.  The aroma is awash with hints of dried fruit, fruitcake and sherry with herbal/medicinal notes floating in the background.  The flavor brings a subtle sweetness of caramel, vanilla and a hint of fruit.  There is a bare hint of smoke and medicinal peat that lets you know you’re drinking a Scotch whisky.  The finish is long and light with hints of toasted cereal grains and honey.

This is definitely a lighter whisky and I can certainly see where it would appeal to whisky virgins.  SIA doesn’t punch you with peat, smoke or aggressive flavors.  But, I can see the appeal for whisky enthusiasts as well.  You get nuances of a lot of Scotch whisky regions but the whole remains harmonious.  I can definitely see myself reaching for a dram of SIA when I’m looking for something lighter that still brings an interesting flavor spectrum.


† The product reviewed here was provided to me as a free sample. If you’re wondering what that means check out my sample policy.

Review – Dickel Barrel Program Tennessee Whisky

Posted by Reese on 2014-12-09 @ 09:36pm

As previously mentioned, I was selected to be part of the Dickel Dozen blogger program.  A few weeks back they sent a bottle of Dickel Barrel Program Tennessee Whisky my way along with some challenges.  I’ve been responding to their challenges (more on that later) and, more importantly, drinking the whisky and making some great cocktails.  So, let’s get to the important stuff!

Handmade the Hard Way

The color of this whisky begins offering hints to its boldness before you even uncork the bottle.  The rich cedar/mahogany color speaks to the barrel aging and charcoal mellowing.  The aroma is complex with notes of vanilla and fruitcake (think spice, fruit and caramel) and subtle hints of oak and corn coming through.  Given that Tennessee Whisky and Bourbon are both corn based it seems logical that you’d get some corn coming through.  But I can’t say that I’ve noticed it much in other whiskies.  I really enjoyed its presence here.  That corn aroma brought me back to what and where this whisky comes from.

The flavor is bold.  This is not a whisky for whiskey newbies or folks who are only so-so on it.  On the other hand, that’s a great thing for people who love whisky.  Like this guy.  The flavor brings more of the vanilla, caramel and fruitcake flavors to the front with the oak and corn sticking around, but in a supporting role.  Despite the boldness, this whisky remains smooth and rich.  There is light spiciness from the rye (8% of the mash bill) which works really well with the deep fruit flavors.  The finish on this whisky is long, with a pleasant warmth in your throat and reminders of the fruitiness floating around for quite a while.

I could drink glass after glass of the Dickel Barrel Program Whisky neat but, hey, I make cocktails.  So how does it stand up to three of my favorite classics?  Like a champ!

 

Dickel Manhattan

Dickel Barrel Program Manhattan – The bold character of the whisky carries through and stands up to the rich flavors of the sweet vermouth (I used Punt e Mes) and the result is a very rich, full bodied cocktail.  I found that this Manhattan could be one that you sip slowly over the course of a relaxing night or … it might disappear quicker than expected.  But therein lies the perfect balance. *

 

Dickel Whisky Sour

Dickel Barrel Program Whisky Sour – Oh man, this drink reminded me why I like the classic whiskey sour so much.  The cocktail is smooth, crisp, refreshing and alarmingly easy to drink.  Definitely make sure you’re including the egg white and use a touch less sugar.  The complexity of the Dickel pairs really well with the sourness of the lemon and the egg white smooths it all out.

 

Dickel Old Fashioned

Dickel Barrel Program Old Fashioned – My notes sum it up perfectly, “Bold but smooth”.  This is another one where I’d cut down on the sugar you typically use.  The inherent sweetness of the whisky come make up for the decreased sugar.  I found 2 tsp of simple syrup was a bit too sweet for me, but a touch more Dickel sorted that out.  The subtle smokiness of this whisky really came out in the Old Fashioned and worked great with the orange.  As with the others, this is a cocktail I can (and have) envisioned myself enjoying much more quickly than planned.

 

I’m finding after these few weeks of sampling that Dickel Barrel Program Whisky has an abnormally short life span when in my house.  Could be the altitude, but I’m guessing not.  Cheers, friends.  May there be whisky in your glass and love in your heart.

 

* It should be noted that I actually stopped writing at this point to have another Dickel Manhattan. :)


† The product reviewed here was provided to me as a free sample. If you’re wondering what that means check out my sample policy.

Review – Berentzen Bushel and Barrel

Posted by Reese on 2014-12-02 @ 05:39pm

For over 250 years Berentzen has been making distilled spirits and specifically apple and other fruit liqueurs.  Bushel and Barrel is the marriage of their long experience making apple liqueur with the years of tradition and flavor of Kentucky Bourbon.  The result is a apple bourbon liqueur clocking in at 30% ABV.

The color is a light honey/amber.  The nose is where it really starts to come alive, though.  The aroma is primarily crisp apple with the subtle notes of bourbon – caramel, vanilla and spice – rounding out the profile.  The flavor follows what the aroma started and with less sweetness than I expected.  This liqueur is truly not cloying like so many are.  The whiskey adds back notes but the apple is really the star here.  I have to add that the apple flavor in Bushel and Barrel is more natural than I’ve found with other apple liqueurs.  I think it would make a really interesting, slightly more “grown up”, Apple Martini.  For me, Bushel and Barrel is best when mixed 1:1 with a nice high-rye bourbon or straight rye.  Something with some spice to play off the sweet apple flavors.  I’ve been adding a dash of bitters and making a Bushel and Barrel Old Fashioned that is very tasty and perfect for the fall.

Berentzen Bourbon Old Fashioned

Berentzen Bushel and Barrel Old Fashioned
1 oz Bourbon or Rye Whiskey
1 oz Berentzen Bushel and Barrel
1-2 Dashes Old Fashioned Bitters
1) Combine over ice
2) Garnish with a fresh or dried apple slice
3) Drink
4) Repeat

† The product reviewed here was provided to me as a free sample. If you’re wondering what that means check out my sample policy.